Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, are reintroducing legislation that would push Federal agencies to develop detailed inventories of their legacy IT systems and plans to modernize them.

The Legacy IT Reduction Act – first introduced in March 2022 – aims to reduce the Federal government’s reliance on legacy IT systems by requiring Federal agencies to inventory their legacy IT systems and develop concurring modernization plans.

According to both lawmakers, updating outdated government IT systems helps reduce costs, strengthen cybersecurity, and improve the customer experience of taxpayers.

“Too many of the government technology systems that we rely on every day are not up to today’s standards. Updating these systems is a commonsense way to help strengthen cybersecurity, improve taxpayers’ experience using these systems, and ultimately save taxpayer dollars,” said Sen. Hassan in a press release.

“Outdated IT systems are an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars and a threat to the Federal government’s cybersecurity,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This commonsense bill would modernize these systems and ensure we’re investing in technology that is secure, user-friendly, and fiscally responsible.”

If the legislation becomes law, Federal agencies have two years to come up with an IT modernization plan, and would update those plans five years later.

Similar to the 2022 version, the 2023 version of the bill includes requirements for Federal agencies to develop an inventory of legacy IT systems, and write modernization plans to update or dispose of their legacy IT systems. The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget to issue guidance to assist agencies with identifying legacy IT, and how to modernize systems.

The 2022 version of the bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, but the committee rejected an amendment that would fund the effort.

Federal agencies spend nearly $100 billion annually on their IT needs, but a significant portion of funds go to maintaining legacy systems. Funding sources for modernization efforts include the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) and IT-focused working capital accounts. But large-scale modernization is an expensive undertaking, and those funding sources often are insufficient for large IT modernization undertakings.

Sen. Hassan said during last year’s work on the bill that the Federal government “must expand access to IT working capital funds and the TMF to help agencies fund their IT modernization projects in a fiscally responsible way.”

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.